Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday warned President-elect Donald Trump against walking away from a global climate deal, saying that trends toward clean energy are “irreversible” and will help drive economic growth.
In an article published in the highly regarded research journal Science, Obama wrote that “a massive scientific record” shows that climate change is “real and cannot be ignored” and that left unchecked, the continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions could cause global average temperatures to increase by another four degrees Celsius or more by 2100.
That rise would cost the world economy about four percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which could lead to lost U.S. federal revenue of roughly 340 billion to 690 billion U.S. dollars every year, Obama said.
“Although our understanding of the impacts of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, there is still debate about the proper course for U.S. policy — a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition,” said Obama, referring to Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.
However, he said that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during his presidency will continue “and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow.”
Obama noted that between 2008 and 2015 the U.S. economy grew by more than 10 percent while emissions of carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5 percent, a result that “should put to rest the argument that combating climate change requires accepting lower growth or a lower standard of living.”
He also pointed to increasing private-sector investments in clean energy, a dramatic fall in renewable electricity costs, and a global clean-energy race, which was lacking even just a short time ago.
“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama said.
It’s thought that Obama’s climate legacy could be dismantled under Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax” and has threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement that took effect last year. Enditem